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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

PYRAMID PEAK: Ocean Drive (99-06)

Ocean Drive is a splendid album that is absolutely worth its reissue

1 Reflections 7:21

2 Ocean Drive 23:22

3 Dive 8:15

4 Sunrise 11:12

5 Twilight 15:24

6 Psycho (Bonus Track) 13:05

(CD-r/DDL 78:49) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School)

OCEAN DRIVE is Pyramid Peak 2nd album. This German trio consisted by musicians Axel Stupplich, Uwe Denzer and Andreas Morsch have been around since 88 and produced a good amount of electronic music (EM) on 4-tracks before seeing a first cd, Atmosphere, land on Invisible Shadows in early 99. In fact, the first 6 P.Peak albums appeared simultaneously between 1999 and 2001 before the German label closed its doors. These albums are redistributed by SynGate in 2006 as cd-r. Some with a bonus track like this OCEAN DRIVE. Another very nice initiative, because Pyramid Peak is a band that has all its place in the world of EM. A more progressive band that offers us a great second opus.

Circadian pulsations beat in an apocalyptic atmosphere provided with the crumpling of screaming metals and gongs with chthonian sound dimensions. A hyper-nervous sequence comes out from the shadow of heavy pulsations around the first minute. It pulses and twirls in all directions, driven by the rubbery momentums of the synths from which the mysterious breaths call the synth to develop its high-pitched solos so unique to the German trio's signature. Reflections signs a stationary electronic rhythm with organic tonalities from the sequencer whose chirps are enveloped by synths that release layers, solos, lines and effects with a thousand iridescent sonorities. The long title-track begins at first with a pulsating rhythm structure. The sequencer is heavy with symmetrical beats that are uplifting and develop a melodic rhythm line sequenced in turn in a minimalist vision. These rhythmic and melodic sequences make the first 10 minutes of Ocean Drive jump around in the particular sound world of Pyramid Peak. If the rhythm remains linear, the melodic line accentuates its tendrils and its intonation by bringing its nuances with more pointed tunes. The synth solos have this harmonic vision as catchy as the rhythm, while the haze masses, orchestrations and effects accompany it until the 11th minute. At this point, the haze becomes orchestration in a short atmospheric phase that links the first two rhythmic poles of Ocean Drive. Voice effects and Pink Floyd's beeps in Wish you Were Here adorn the hazy violin strings up until a line of clear sequences reacts to the rhythm of which its second life is more frenetic, more upbeat if not techno. A very big title in the repertoire of the Peak!

Aside from the texture of the synth solos, Pyramid Peak is unrivaled in laying down rhythmic structures linked to melodic forms. After a brief opening of mournful drones, Dive is revealed by nervous keys waddling into the sway of a bass line. This rhythm is in harmony with the long, high-pitched solos of a synth that likes to make swirl its laments. Subtly, the movement changes tone on a more accentuated rhythm where weak percussions imitate a pendulum effect. The synth snakes through the movement with solos that embed themselves in the ear. You'll love the solos of the Peak. Aside from their own identities, they twist and turn with consistency and come from all sides. The winds carry the seagulls' cries and a synth, slightly fluty, extends its ample nostalgic waves. This ambient opening of Sunrise approaches 3 minutes when a furious sequencer line spins at high speed in a frantic race surrounded by childlike synth melodies. This phase of hyper spasmodic rhythm dies out in orchestral synth layers that also filled this opening before Sunrise escaped. The opening of Twilight is bursting of emotion with layers of mist in suspension where hides a very melodious solo coming from a beautiful synth line. Also flirting with the 3 minutes, this opening sees its mist being fanned by a lively spasmodic movement of the sequencer which sculpts the movement of a train on the plains of the New Berlin School that Pyramid Peak tattoos with sublime synth solos. Siren effects open the door to percussive elements that jig with an organic tone, while phlegmatic synths flood us with solos whose harmonies are closer than twisted experiments. It's excellent Peak stuff on a skillfully cut structure that reminds me of Clara Mondshine! The 8th minute brings a change in intonation, announcing that Twilight is heading towards a long atmospheric finale pierced by brief synthesized agonies.

The reissue of OCEAN DRIVE by the German label SynGate in 2006 proposed a bonus track of about 13 minutes in Psycho. Its slow opening, almost 4 minutes, is provided with cavernous breezes that like to modify their textures in an orchestral vision. The emerging sequence gurgles and hops in a universe of perdition from which the sharp-pointed solos of Axel Stupplich, Uwe Denzer and Andreas Morsch express themselves. These solos are like the rhythmic beacon of Psycho that lights up for real after the 7th minute. The rhythm follows a waddling movement solidly anchored by good, strong pulses and metallic claps. This structure remains firmly linked in the atmospheric texture of the synths, creating a confusion that will serve the cause of the sequencer and the synths in a typical Peak finale.

Pyramid Peak has one great quality, that of having developed its own musical identity. Beyond the Berlin School, the German trio develops a more accessible music that is focused on melody. As much in the synth solos as in the curve of the rhythms. OCEAN DRIVE is a splendid album that is absolutely worth its reissue. It's an album with a magical sound where the sequencers subdivide their impulses in order to create rhythmic schemes as catchy as melodious under flights of synths with solos and harmonies that seduce as soon as our eardrums catch those.

Sylvain Lupari (December 4th, 2006) ****½*

Available at SynGate Bandcamp

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